Guangdong's population growth hits record high, remains fertility champion for 6th consecutive year
Published: Mar 31, 2024 08:00 PM
A medical worker gets a newborn baby's commemorative footprint at a hospital in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province, Jan 22, 2023. Photo:Xinhua

A medical worker gets a newborn baby's commemorative footprint at a hospital in Shijiazhuang, north China's Hebei Province, Jan 22, 2023. Photo:Xinhua

China's latest population growth has become clear after local regions released their population data, with South China's Guangdong remaining the leading province in terms of growth for six consecutive years.

At the end of 2023, the permanent population of Guangdong was 127.06 million, an increase of 490,000 from the end of the previous year and the annual number of births was 1.03 million, with a birth rate of 8.12 per mille, according to the recent-released statistical bulletin on Guangdong's economic and social development in 2023. 

Starting from 2019, Guangdong has been the only province to see annual births surpass 1 million for four consecutive years, while it has remained the leading province in terms of birth rate for six consecutive years. 

Data also shows that the province's permanent urban population was 95.83 million, accounting for 75.42 percent of the permanent population (urbanization rate), an increase of 0.63 percentage points from the previous year. The number of deaths was 680,000, with a death rate of 5.36 per mille; the natural population growth was 350,000, with a natural growth rate of 2.76 per mille.

Niu Fengrui, a researcher from Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that it is an inevitable trend for the population to spontaneously migrate to areas with fast economic growth, more employment opportunities, high income levels and vitality.

Driven by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) and the economic development of the Yangtze River Delta, Guangdong succeeds in being a pioneer for vitality, Niu noted. 

East China's Shandong, the second most populous province, saw its permanent population decline by nearly 400,000 in 2023, with the decline being more pronounced among provinces that have published data. Besides Shangdong, Southwest China's Chongqing and Sichuan, which have shown impressive economic growth rates in recent years, have seen a shift from positive to negative population growth. In 2023, the resident population of Chongqing and Sichuan decreased by 219,100 and 60,000, respectively.

The data for the traditionally populous provinces in the central part of China - Henan, Hunan, Anhui, Hubei, Jiangxi and Shanxi - show negative growths for all six's resident population in 2023, with decreases of 570,000 people, 360,000 people, 60,000 people, 60,000 people, 129,700 people and 153,600 people, respectively. 

Yuan Xin, a deputy head of the Population Association of China and demographer from Nankai University in Tianjin Municipality, said these provinces are traditionally labor export provinces. After the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, labor exports saw an obvious rise. 

The provinces with positive population growth, including Zhejiang, Hainan and Jiangsu, continued to expand, while Guizhou was the only province in the central and western regions to maintain positive growth. 

At the end of 2023, Zhejiang's permanent population was 66.27 million, an increase of 500,000 compared with 65.77 million at the end of 2022. This increase ranks first in the country.

Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin reversed the trend toward population loss in 2023, with permanent resident growth rates going from negative to positive.

Despite both implementing relevant population control measures, Beijing and Shanghai are among the metropolises in China that still possess a natural attraction for the labor forces. With the gradual normalization of pandemic prevention and control, population mobility is returning to a market-based trend, leading to a large influx of labor forces back into Beijing and Shanghai, Niu noted. 

Additionally, against the backdrop of the competition for high-end talents between Beijing and Shanghai, high-end talents have the conditions and willingness to carry their families with them when relocating, which stimulated the population growth in both cities.

Niu said that in the coming period of time, the proportion of urban population will continue to increase, just like the proportion of population in regional centers, while the population of other non-regional centers may decline.